The Truth About Charlie – (*)

Posted on October 25th, 2002 in Movie Reviews by EngineerBoy

So, what would happen if director Ted Demme ate some psychedelic mushrooms, then watched ‘Charade’, ‘Mulholland Drive’, and ‘The Bicycle Thief’ (about 10 times each), and then asked a Hollywood studio exec to help him work out the finer points of artistic expression?

What would probably happen is that he’d get ill and excrete something like ‘The Truth About Charlie’.

Wow, what the heck was he thinking? Marie and I went to see this movie knowing nothing about it other than what we gleaned from seeing the trailer a few times. It looked like it could be good fun. It was good fun, but only because of the vast mother lode of mockable plot contrivances and hackneyed cinematic clichés. Marie kept having to shush me so that I wouldn’t disturb the other theatergoers, but my reaction was virtually involuntary.

Markie Mark (Mark Wahlberg): He should do his career a favor and only work in Paul Thomas Anderson’s films. He was amazing to the point of Oscar-worthiness in ‘Boogie Nights’, but in ‘Charlie’ he is a drab, generic schlub, with no facets that make us care (good or bad) what happens to him. And, with his Neanderthal forehead and furrowed brow, he looks remarkably like a constipated gorilla throughout this movie.

Thandie Newton: She makes the best of terrible, trite dialogue and contrived situations. She’s pretty darned cute and probably has good things in store for her career-wise.

Tim Robbins: Looks like he cashed the check before filming began and had nothing to gain/lose from his performance. Not exactly sleepwalking, but certainly expending only the minimum amount of effort necessary to avoid shameful embarrassment.

Rest of Cast: Ehhh.

 

The good news is that nothing blows up, and there’s not much (for Hollywood) gratuitous violence, and none of the staged Matrix/XXX/etc fantasy-fighting. There is, however, a surplus of faux-romantic Parisian vignettes, but there are no sparks between…anyone in this movie.

Reservoir Dogs (****)

Posted on October 25th, 2002 in Movie Reviews by EngineerBoy

What a great movie. We had the chance to see it again this past weekend, on the big screen at the Angelika Theater here in Houston. Yes, there is a bit more style than substance, but it has a whole lot of both. Every major cast member turns in a career-best performance, including the astonishing Chris Penn.

Spaghetti Western – Highly Recommended

Posted on October 25th, 2002 in Houston,Restaurant Reviews by mynagirl

On Shepherd just south of I-10. Excellent Italian food for very reasonable prices,  and the atmosphere is very comfortable and cute. Wait staff excellent.

I  highly recommend a ‘slice’ of their pizza, which is a triangular pizza in and of  itself (fabulous crust all the way around, yum!).

Excellent espresso,  too.

Backstreet Cafe – Highly Recommended

Posted on October 25th, 2002 in Houston,Restaurant Reviews by EngineerBoy

Backstreet Cafe is located on the Shepherd curve just south of W. Dallas  St. Prices are a bit upscale, but the ambience is unbeatable. We usually try to  go in the spring or fall, when the moderate temperatures make their patio a  nearly magical place to dine. We actually just went this past weekend  (10/11/2002), but were sadly disappointed to find that our *favorite* soup  (sherried mushroom) was no longer on the menu. We tried their new asparagus  soup, but it was extraordinarily ordinary.

As for the rest of the menu, I  had the duck spring roll appetizer, which was fantastic. We also love the  coffee-crusted steak and the meatloaf tower. They also have a good wine  list.

In summary, we still love Backstreet, but given the large selection  of quality dining in Houston, we may go less frequently now that our favorite  soup is no longer available. It’s still a beautiful dining experience in  temperate weather, and the food is certainly above average, so keep Backstreet  in mind.